What We Can Learn About Marketing From A Construction Site

On my morning commute, I scoot past a giant hole in the middle of midtown Manhattan.

Or at least I think it’s a giant hole.  I can’t quite tell.  There are temporary wooden walls around it.

It’s a construction site.  And in about a year it’ll be a skyscraper, I’m sure.  (I “secret” that they’re building a new Broadway theater, but something tells me I need a lot more than positive thinking to make that happen!)

I’m always curious what’s going on behind those walls.  What does a giant empty block in the middle of midtown Manhattan look like?  What is under our sidewalks?  How do they put in a foundation that can hold up a giant skyscraper?

As I was trying to find a crack in a wall somewhere, I saw it . . . 

In the middle of that protective plywood. . . was a 1 x 1 clear piece of plastic.

It was a window.

A window into the world of a construction site in Midtown.  You can see it in these pictures.

And you can bet, I screeched to a stop on my scooter and peeked in.  


If you’ve never looked at what’s happening at one of these sites, you should. 

These windows aren’t new.  They’ve had them on construction sites for years.  And before the windows, people used to peer through the cracks in the walls to see what was happening “behind the curtain.”

Because people always want to know what’s happening behind a closed door. 

Never before have consumers been more curious about how things are made.  They want to peek into the kitchen of a five star restaurant.  They want to watch an artist sculpting their work.

And they want to watch theatermakers make their theater.

Giving an audience a peek through a window to the process of making theater is a way to get them to screech to a stop and pay attention to what you’re doing.  It gets them more engaged. It generates more word of mouth.  And, heck, you could even charge for it.

Want some proof?

The #1 requested amenity from people who email me for tickets to my shows is “a backstage tour.”

We should offer those.  Disney does it.  NBC does it.   We should too.  

But backstage tours are only the beginning.  Watching sound check (like watching batting practice at a Yankees game), observing a rehearsal, publishing excerpts from stage management reports . . .  are just a few ideas on how we can give our most avid members of our audience what they want: to be part of the process.

What are your ideas on how to show people how our dramatic sausage is made?

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.